Patient safety is the absence of preventable harm to a patient during the process of health care and the reduction of the risk of unnecessary harm associated with health care to an acceptable minimum.
Dr. Chethana Hosur, Consultant and Advisor- Healthcare Operations, Quality and Audits, Motherhood Group of Hospitals and a faculty at Indian Institute of Health Management Research.
Motherhood Group of Hospitals is a specialty hospital chain that provides comprehensive women & child care in a home-like environment. They are renowned for providing compassionate and efficient care to enhance all aspects of a woman’s life. Their Motherhood Safety Shield program initiative reflects their continued commitment to patient safety.
Health is the biggest investment
Dr. Chethana shares her views, “The COVID-19 Pandemic brought out the self-realization and proved once again that health is the biggest investment not just for one’s safety but also for the country’s economy. This pandemic posed lots of safety challenges wherein Covid patients had to experience fear and uncertainties of their own clinical outcomes and on the other hand Non-Covid patients seeking other medical help too had the mental turmoil of contracting Covid cross-infection while under hospital care. Lack of preparedness, shortages of critical supplies like PPEs, oxygen, ventilators, etc, scarcity of clinical staff to meet the surge of patient load, process variations, etc are lessons to learn. Be it healthcare-associated infections or medication-related adverse events or patients falls, etc are seen to be a major threat to the safety of patients. WHO statistics reveal that the risk of patient death due to preventable medical accidents globally is 1 in 300. And in high-income countries, about 50% of such adverse events are preventable and about 83% of these are preventable in low and mid-income countries. Isn’t this alarming? WHO has stated that aviation and nuclear industries have better safety records than healthcare. Patients look up to hospitals as temples of healing and recovery from illness, on the contrary, an unsafe, unpredictable hospital environment will lead to loss of trust and hope by the public in our healthcare system itself. Hence it's time the healthcare community stands united in addressing patient safety as a global health priority by adapting a proactive, predictive and preventive approach,” she says.
Physical, mental, and psychological well being of the staff has a direct bearing on patient safety
Dr. Chethana explains, “The theme of SAFE HEALTH WORKERS-SAFE PATIENTS could not have been better emphasized by the current pandemic experience. The success of any Clinical Care program like our Covid story rests solely on the availability of a healthy medical and paramedical workforce. Motherhood Group is extremely focused on the safety of all front line healthcare team. Their physical and mental health and also their psychological well being has a direct bearing on safe patient care practices. Dealing with so much morbidity and mortality on a daily basis at the workplace is very emotionally stressful. We give due attention to their health needs like employee health screening, Nutritious diet, recreation and relaxation like yoga, meditation programs, Work breaks, control on overtime duties, nursing empowerment, staff helplines, employee safety committees, etc has helped in keeping them motivated and reassured which in turn resulted in the seamless continuity of patient care. All hospitals do provide essential PPE and safety gear to prevent occupational hazards. At MOTHERHOOD Hospitals, we have implemented a buddy system to partner and mentor junior staff to prevent employee burnout, boost their confidence, and encourage learning on the go. This has enhanced openness, transparency, and effective communication which reflects in the reduction of errors,” she says.
Investment in technology to be seen as quality solutions
Dr. Chethana sheds light on the subject, “Being in this Digital Era and with so much technology being readily available, Healthcare, especially in developing countries, is lagging behind to leverage it, for the benefit of all. Digital solutions like AI, remote monitoring and alert systems, smart pumps, fall detectors, E- prescriptions, Bar code medication administration, memory aids, automation technology, touch-free sensor-based equipment, fully automatic computer-aided diagnosis (CAD), HIS, drones, and robots, etc have made a phenomenal impact in emergency care, triage, outreach care, access to real-time reliable information, improvising safety processes and improve practice efficiency. Telemedicine has made a breakthrough during this pandemic and the future of Tele ICU, Tele-diagnostics is very encouraging. Acceptance and inclination to adapt to this technological change have increased both by the patients and providers which in-turn shall minimize the safety incidents and also reduce its impact when occurred. Investment in technology should no longer be perceived as additional expenditure but are to be seen as solutions to save time, reduce costs of medical errors, repeats and redo's and eliminate process waste,” she says.
Patients are the most effective SECOND PAIR OF EYES
Dr. Chethana shares her thoughts, “Hospitals are continually striving hard to mitigate such risks pertaining to patient safety. Adverse events may be clinical or nonclinical in the form of variances to near miss or sentinel events. Compliance to safety standards laid down by national and accreditation bodies aligned with IPSG goals are being met by healthcare organizations and professionals. Protocols like surgical safety checklists, Controls for Look-Alike, Sound-Alike and High alert medication, maker checker controls, hand hygiene, and infection control surveillance activities, clinical reasoning, and audits are an integral part of every hospital’s safety and quality assurance program. However what is needed is a renewed action, hence we have established THE MOTHERHOOD SAFETY SHIELD to further strengthen the foundation of safety culture by a supportive leadership and a responsible workforce to achieve the highest degree of obstetric safety and Child care. A non-punitive, blame-free culture which encourages patient safety learnings by understanding human factors and systems thinking, multidisciplinary participative involvement to translate every learning into an actionable change for preventing errors and shift from product/device focus to patient centered approach. Acknowledging and empowering the patient as a partner in his own care is important. It is said that patients are the most effective SECOND PAIR OF EYES, to pick up deviations, to monitor by asking/alerting. A quest to knit a patient safety net by healthcare safety champions to make our hospitals as safe as patients’ homes is the need of the hour,” she says.
(Edited by Rabia Mistry Mulla)